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CEC Continues Steady Push for Hydrogen

2 Jul 2020


The California Energy Commission’s continued funding for research and development to create emissions-free hydrogen fuel for transportation and energy storage is beginning to show results. 

“Adoption is happening, but the supply is thin,” Wayne Leighty with Shell Energy said during a July 2 California Energy Commission workshop. “Don’t worry about getting it right, but getting it started...

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The Buzz

25 Jun 2020


California sets the nation’s first statewide mandate to electrify medium- and heavy-duty trucks beginning in 2024. State energy regulators and utilities will play key roles in the success of the transition away from polluting diesel trucks to electrified ones by getting needed charging infrastructure built.

The California Public Utilities Commission expands the local resources adequacy market...

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CA Gas Utilities Produce Cutting Edge Clean Biogas

23 Jun 2020


SoCal Gas and Pacific Gas & Electric announced June 22 a significant breakthrough in a new electrochemical technology that converts carbon dioxide in raw biogas to renewable natural gas that can be put into pipelines.

It is a “critical improvement in the science of upgrading waste emissions to renewable gas,” according to the utilities. This technology also is commercially competitive.

The utilities collaborated with Opus 12, a clean-energy startup that began at Stanford University...

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Court Approves PG&E $60B Financing Scheme, Company Issues More Debt

23 Jun 2020


The U.S. Bankruptcy Court confirmed Pacific Gas & Electric’s $58 billion reorganization to resolve massive claims—from wildfire victims and other creditors—10 days ahead of a legislative June 30 deadline. That is the final date for accessing the $21 billion utility ratepayer and shareholder funded fire trust, which PG&E and the court have kept their eyes on.

Judge Dennis Montali approved the Chapter 11 plan Saturday, June 20...

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The Buzz

18 Jun 2020


Landowners' legal challenge to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s practice of allowing land to be seized for a pipeline before deciding whether to reconsider a granted permit forces FERC to ease its rehearing rules. However, the one dissenting commissioner says the new rule is a hollow victory for aggrieved property owners.

Private and public utilities in California join with ones in Oregon and Washington to advance a plan creating an electric charging corridor for big rigs running from San Diego to Seattle...

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Humboldt Towns Protected Against Shutoffs, Locals Say the Change is Overdue

16 Jun 2020


When power is deliberately shut off to avoid fires amid high wind in Pacific Gas & Electric territory, 20 cities along the North Coast won’t have to worry. That is because PG&E reconfigured its 163 MW natural gas fired power plant in Humboldt County so it can disconnect from the grid and continue supplying the region. The cities powered by the islanded plant include Eureka, Arcata, McKinleyville and Fortuna, as well as some tribal communities...

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The Buzz

11 Jun 2020


After months of few energy items on the California Public Utilities Commission business meeting agendas, this week’s one is dense, and action packed.

After honoring the death of George Floyd, the five utility regulators approve Pacific Gas & Electric’s plan to install diesel-fueled generators to provide power during safety outages. The CPUC also signs off on the utilities’ 2020 Wildfire Mitigation Plans that are riddled with problems, and come with a $15 billion price tag...

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JUICE: Falling Off the Clean Energy Wagon

9 Jun 2020


Updated June 11

Since the start of this century, California has been working to wean the electricity sector off addictive and harmful fossil-fueled generation. A homegrown 12-step recovery program has produced impressive strides. But key players, and Pacific Gas & Electric in particular, are allowed to fall off the wagon.

State energy regulators approved June 11 PG&E’s installation of diesel powered-backup systems for use during threatening fire conditions...

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The Buzz

4 Jun 2020


Pacific Gas & Electric’s plan to reduce wildfire threats and safety outages is half empty or half full, depending on your perspective. While the CPUC President says she is optimistic about the improvements in the 2020 plan, she has doubts about it being successfully implemented. In spite of the concerns, none are raised about its multi-billion dollar price tag during a Senate Energy & Utilities Committee hearing...

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The Buzz

28 May 2020


The California Public Utilities Commission approves Pacific Gas & Electric’s huge debt package to get it out of federal bankruptcy court by the end of June as directed by state legislation.  

Moving on a parallel track is legislation setting the stage for California to seize PG&E’s gas and electric assets. Putting the utility under the auspices of a new state nonprofit, Golden State Energy, is in the event the utility collapses under the weight of its debt load or sparks another massive wildfire...

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JUICE: Doubts about PG&E Promise to Exit Bankruptcy Sans Rate Hike

26 May 2020


Pacific Gas & Electric’s $58 billion borrowing plan to exit bankruptcy is required to be rate neutral. Ratepayers are not supposed to pay an extra dime for the Chapter 11 proceedings under the law creating a $21 billion wildfire fund, AB 1054.

Protecting ratepayers from paying for this second bankruptcy, which roughly doubles PG&E’s debt, will not be easy. It will require the vigilant oversight of the California Public Utilities Commission over the next several years...

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The Buzz

21 May 2020


The California Public Utilities Commission vote on Pacific Gas & Electric’s massive reorganization plan gets waylaid by an improper communication.

The CPUC's proposed decision on the plan, now set for a May 28 vote, approves most but not all of the pending financing to get PG&E out from under massive wildfire claims. It does not include huge PG&E fees for outside lawyers and accountants...

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Guest Juice: Blockchain for Bitcoin and DER

18 May 2020


by Wayne Hicks

A common vision for the future of California and the nation’s energy grid involves homeowners selling unused power generated from rooftop solar panels to others in their communities, and working together to help ensure the reliability, resiliency, and security of the power grid everyone uses.

Sounds great in theory. But how can the grid manage such complex energy transactions at scale?

Several emerging solutions to this opportunity rely on blockchain technology...

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The Buzz

14 May 2020


The massive hole in the upcoming state budget caused by the pandemic does not keep Gov. Gavin Newsom from adding funds to protect against wildfires and its fallout.  It is another story for climate protection, however.

Covid-19 also is responsible for destroying huge numbers of jobs in energy efficiency, renewables and other alternative energy sectors inside and outside of California. The Golden State sees a loss of 100,000-plus jobs, more than a fifth of those lost nationwide as of the end of April...

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Juice: Brass Knuckles

12 May 2020


Metal fighting devices placed on a person's knuckles “concentrate a punch’s force by directing it toward a harder and smaller contact area,” increasing the harm to the intended target, according to Wikipedia.

The Trump Administration has popularized the use of the functional equivalent of these thuggish fighting tools. They also appear back in fashion at some of our investor-owned utilities...

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The Buzz

7 May 2020


The California Public Utilities Commission staff releases a draft resolution that finds big holes in the private utilities 2020 plans for reducing wildfire threats. But it recommends they be approved.

Pacific Gas & Electric shareholders are on the hook for nearly $2 billion for numerous fires the company sparked in 2017 and 2018. The presiding Commissioner removes a $200 million fine because of PG&E’s financial obligations and is backed by his fellow regulators...

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Utility Safety Plans Riddled with Deficiencies, Wildfire Safety Division Says

7 May 2020


California Public Utilities Commission staff detailed numerous gaps in how the three investor-owned utilities plan to address wildfires this year in draft findings released May 7.

The proposed resolution by the Commission’s Wildfire Safety Division found the plans of the major electrical utilities “provide no discussion of how the chosen portfolio of initiatives will allow the utility to achieve its goals for reducing [public safety power shutoffs] impacts...

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The Buzz

30 Apr 2020


Lawmakers’ mission when back in Sacramento will be economic recovery. In the meantime, live energy bills are whittled down largely to ones that fund alternative power and transportation sectors and create jobs to help the damaged state economy. Also in the active legislation bucket is legislation to reduce the impacts of safety shutoffs.

A bill creating an unpleasant buzz would give an expensive, large pumped storage project near Joshua Tree a leg up...

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Juice: Beyond Diesel Backup Generation and Blackouts

28 Apr 2020


The use of clean-fueled microgrids to keep power flowing to vulnerable people and critical services—from safety to water supply—during upcoming fires and outages was the talk of the town. Unfortunately, the talk led to little action on installing these types of projects in high fire threat areas in California before wildfires start this year.

Pacific Gas & Electric has contracted for 300 MW of temporary diesel powered backup generation to ensure electricity powers critical resources, community resource centers and medically vulnerable customers during shutoffs...

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The Buzz

23 Apr 2020


The California Public Utilities Commission seeks ways to ease the suffering of ratepayers and alternative energy companies and their workers struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic.

After months of controversy, East Bay Community Energy votes 10-5 to reject taking nuclear power from PG&E. The nuclear power is a hot political potato for the East Bay but not the big hydropower PG&E is offering...

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